Our lawyer friend of 30 years cheated us out of $400,000
My husband and I inherited a business property, the San Anselmo Hotel, from my father in 1974, and in 1979 we took in our friend. Ralph Bastian, a wealthy San Francisco personal injury lawyer, as a partner. He purchased 50% of the property, making him and us equal partners. My father died in 1982 confident he has left me something of value.
For 25 years we managed the property profitably, entirely ourselves and had no problems, paying Bastian a substantial draw from the profits at least once every year.from 1979 until 1996. However, in 1996 the demographics had changed in Marin County, and we decided, together, with Bastian in 1996 that this small residence hotel, then catering to low income monthly tenants, was due for an overhaul. My husband and I wrote a business plan with Bastian's knowledge and acquiesence, but not his assistance, in order to acquire funds for this remodel. Then my husband and I spent 3-1/2 years of our lives remodelling the Hotel into the San Anselmo Inn, an upscale hostelry, drawing
doen the borrowed line of credit as needed.
In 1999 our partner decided that he wanted to sell the now remodeled business, even though the income had not yet reached projectied maximum. We objected, but being a man of considerable means, he seized majority control of the partnership, he paid off the Line of Credit personally,(over our objections) and sued us for misappropriation of partnership funds. He had no reason to do this, but our financial resources did not permit us to fight hima lthough no misappropriation of funds on our part were ever discovered in spite of all his efforts. This is because there was no misappropriation of funds!!
Bastian then proceeded to enlist a confederate, the newly hired Inn manager (who was also his former lover) to bilk us of our share of the property value, mismange the employees, and, now having majority control of the business, put ithe property up for sale prematurely and against our wishes.
We had planned on the income from the hotel to fund our retirement, but did not have the financial resources to oppose this sale, either.. Because Bastian is a lawyer he knew that our 3-1/2 years of work remodeling the Hotel had no value under partnership law, a fact he neglected to share with us.
Now the work is done, and the courts have decided that the 750,000 dollar profit, mainly due to our blood, sweat, and tears, is his alone. Nothing is left for us exept capital gainss taxes. Our work is worth nothing. His money is worth everything.
We were decidedly ripped off by this guy, who is now in the process of trying to totally bankrupt us. We find it hard to believe that the justice system in this country is so unjust. The partnership laws were written with the obvious aim of preventing trivial lawsuits being brought by one partner
against the other. However, in this case the damages done to us are egregious. Our prevailing partner, an unscrupulous lawyer, has effectively ripped off his non-lawyer business partners who thought they were his friends for 30 years. He has, through use of his superior knowledge and manipulation of the law benefited himself at our expense, and has enriched himself while depriving us, his trusting partners of our security.
Not only have we lost 3-1/2 years of our lives, not only have we been penalized to the tune of nearly $400,000 (50% of the profits), not only have we lost our future security and retirement, but I personally have also been deprived of my inheritance from my beloved father. We are both over 60 and
face at best an uncertain future as a consequence of this man's greed and malice.